Martha's edible gifts: Popcorn balls, nut brittle, more

Nothing shows how much you care more than a handmade gift — and these ideas from Martha Stewart taste great too. Here, the grande dame of crafts makes recipes for nut brittle blocks, chocolate bark and popcorn balls.

Basic bark

Ingredients

    • Vegetable oil cooking spray
    • Bittersweet, milk, or white chocolate, chopped, according to variation
    • Toppings, according to variation

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Coat a 9-by-12 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, and line with parchment, leaving an overhang on ends.2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring. Pour into baking sheet, and spread in an even layer.3. Immediately sprinkle toppings over chocolate. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Peel off parchment, and break bark into pieces.

Serving Directions:

Variations:Cherry and orange peel barkS'mores barkPeppermint barkLime and macadamia nut barkPistachio, dried cranberry, and toasted-coconut bark

Tips:

Bark can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Nut brittle block
Servings:

Makes one 9-by-13-inch pan

Ingredients

    • Unsalted butter, softened, for baking sheet
    • Vegetable oil, for spatula
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
    • Pinch of salt
    • 2 1/2 cups unsalted nuts, such as dry-roasted peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds or pecans, or toasted pumpkin seeds
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Brush a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with butter, and oil an offset spatula; set aside. Put sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage). Stir in nuts, and continue to cook, stirring often so that the nuts do not burn, until the mixture is medium amber in color, 10 to 15 minutes.2. Carefully stir in vanilla and baking soda (the mixture will foam up).3. Pour onto prepared baking sheet, and using oiled offset spatula, quickly spread into a 1/2-inch-thick layer. Let cool completely.4. Break brittle into pieces if desired; store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month.

Tips:

When giving as a gift, package this brittle block with cellophane, and include a small hammer and bow.

Popcorn balls
Servings:

Makes about 12 servings

Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for buttering hands
    • 1 package miniature marshmallows (10 ounces)
    • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
    • 3 quarts popped popcorn
    • 1 cup dried cranberries, or English toffee bits, optional

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Melt butter in a large heavy pot over low heat. Add marshmallows and brown sugar and stir until melted. Remove from heat.2. Pour popcorn and cranberries, or English toffee bits if using, into pot; toss well. With buttered hands, shape into 2 1/2-inch balls. Set on parchment lined baking sheet to dry slightly.

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